Dear Friend, We are starting.

Dear Friend,

I have been praying for years that God would provide a position where I would be able to provide counseling services in a healthy environment to people who would not usually be able to afford them. To “the poor.”* Having worked in Community Mental Health (often the only mental health option available to those on Medicare/Medicaid), I have witnessed first hand that the services available are mediocre, at best, and abusive, at worse. There are few other options available to most of Jackson’s population.

It appears that God’s sending an opportunity to provide healthy, Christian counseling now, and I am so excited. The Net Counseling Center in Jackson, MS has offered me the opportunity to begin providing counseling to individuals and families outside of Community Mental Health’s broken system. The Net is a non-profit incepted by Cathy Walters and currently run by Cathy and by Elizabeth Busching, a fellow counselor. Cathy and Elizabeth have built The Net to provide life-coaching and counseling to the people of Jackson, with the goal of also sharing Christ’s love.

My work will be counseling individuals referred by the courts, and I may also be able to work with students and families at The Redeemer’s School. There is a great need in Jackson for this work. “The poor” generally have poor healthcare options available to them, and “the poor” make up most of Jackson’s population. Mississippi has often been ranked the poorest state. In her capitol city, approximately 42% of residents live below the poverty level. Nearly half of children here are living in poverty. (See city-data.com) In Jackson’s public schools, 78% of students receive free or reduced-cost meals. (See Jackson Free Press). Hunger is a real problem here. Violence and trauma are overwhelming problems here. The stress of living in poverty wrecks our people’s health. The people of Jackson need food and water. They need quality education. They need quality healthcare. They need peace.

More than all these, they need Jesus. You may wonder why I’m suggesting that the buckle of the Bible Belt needs missionaries. There are churches on every corner, sometimes two. Unfortunately, many of these churches are not full; many are unhealthy. Many have stopped preaching the gospel. Jackson is infected with a large number of prosperity-gospel-preaching churches and with abusive pastors. Many people here may call themselves Christian, but they are not members of a healthy, Bible-believing Christian community and do not know God’s Gospel of grace. Moralism is the religion of the majority here. Many are trapped in self-righteousness; many are trapped in shame.

The fields are white for harvest. This labor will need many partners. We need your prayers: this work is difficult and there are many spiritual and logistical challenges. We need financial partners. I ask that you pray for us as we move in this direction.

With love from Jackson,

Erin

*P.S. Re. using quotes around the term “the poor”: This is a charged term. I include a great deal in my definition of poverty, and I generally dislike using a single term to describe a large group. For brevity’s sake I’ve left my definition out (till a later post), and I have resisted a long string of adjectives, qualifiers, or parenthetical phrases. Hence, “the poor”.

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